Antes de la llegada a la Habana


My neighbor’s son captured this photo of my nephew and I in from of my apartment building in Harlem, NY. I just returned from visiting my college for about a week, and I am now scrambling to prepare for my travels to Cuba! I attend Mount Holyoke College, in South Hadley, MA, and went back to say the goodbyes I had no time to utter during finals week last semester. Everyone expressed their excitement for me, and asked me how excited I was for my next adventure. I disappointed some folks by expressing my anxiety about the whole trip, I was scared of being homesick.

When preparing for a semester abroad, those who have already done so will tell you what a great time you’ll have, often imagining what they would do if they were in your position for the semester. Out of all the students I spoke to, only one person mentioned homesickness as part of their experience while they were away, and this sparked me to reflect on my own fear of homesickness.

As a student who attended a boarding school for her entire high school career, and a current college student living on campus, I should be the last person feeling homesick. Whatever those assumptions might be, I get home sick all the time, as I am sure many others do in similar positions.

Additionally, as someone who had some difficulty adjusting to life at MHC, and who often criticizes the institution and it’s many mechanisms and populations, I know I will miss it. I’ll miss my advisors, and the faculty who should be my flossy posse advisors. I’ll miss my boss, and all the staff who I distract from their work. I’ll miss the friends and communities that have embraced me, the the org and board meetings that I have literally dragged myself to at times, as well as the various black communities that I have and the pleasure of making a home in at MHC.

Eliana, on the long way to SuperBlanch at MHC (it was our first trip)

I’ll miss it all, the familiarity mostly. I know that everything will change while I am gone, and many of my loved ones at MHC are going through some serious transitions. I’ll change, and everything else will too. However, what I love about the familiarity I will miss, is that those very forces are pushing me to change and get out of my comfort zone.

The people who have molded me into who I am and becoming, urged me to “go forth and prosper”, while I was second guessing every decision I made during my study abroad process. They donated money so that I might have an experience of a life time, that I could not afford without their financial support. They sat with me as I teased out all of my questions about black life in Cuba, and as I recounted research and readings about the country to them over meals, or meetings. They gave me advice and emotional support when I was on the fence about  my semester abroad and the projects I hoped to pursue.

These places and people that create any sense of familiarity and safety that I claim, make up my village. And I am so thankful for them!

To my village:

I will miss you all! Thank you for charting my path to Cuba! Your excitement for me has strengthened the energy I need, to pursue the curiosity I refuse to fear, for the upcoming semester. I am excited to recount my adventures to you all upon my return and I look forward to catching up on all that I will miss.

Thank you for fueling my excitement for new experiences. Look forward to all that I will learn about the city of Havana, and the history of Cuba. I hope to capture all that I can about the complexities of life in Havana through images I will send, as my eyes are your eyes while I explore.

As the Orishas would say,”Pa’ la Habana yo me voy!”

Hasta luego familia. I am so grateful for you all and those who have helped me on this journey. And to any newcomers… Welcome to Travels With Ny